Loudon County voters made their voices heard Aug. 2, bringing in new faces for both Loudon County Board of Education and Loudon County Commission.
Kim Bridges beat longtime school board member LeRoy Tate in the fourth district, tallying 536 votes to Tate’s 361. Bridges has never been in an elected position.
“I’m so overwhelmed that it’s hard for me to even begin, but I guess my thing is that I want to thank everybody that voted for me and put their confidence in me,” Bridges said. “Trust me, I will do my very best for them. I don’t know politics by no means, but I do know education. My goal will be to do what’s best for kids and parents and teachers and support staff. That will always be my foremost goal. If they have issues, I want them to know that they can contact me and not to fear that.”
Three newcomers campaigned for the BOE seat in the sixth district. Zack Cusick bested opponents Greg Buckner and Aaron Lewis with 69.99 percent of the vote. Cusick, Buckner and Lewis totaled 793, 155 and 185 votes, respectively.
“I’m just excited to get started,” Cusick said. “I want to thank everybody who voted for me and supported me in some way. I’m excited to get started, and just see what I can do for the families of Loudon County. ... It was clean (race). Everybody — Greg and Aaron both ran campaigns like we did and just good friendly competition going into it. Everybody still had the same interest to do what was best for Loudon County.”
Cusick will take over for Melissa Best, who stepped in for her late husband, Ric Best, in December.
William Jenkins won a close race over challenger Mike Hickman for District 2, seat A, with 51.98 percent of the votes. Jenkins and Hickman received 604 and 558 votes, respectively.
“I really worked hard this campaign and I can really tell Mike Hickman worked just as hard,” Jenkins said. “I respect him for the race that he’s done. I’m thankful for my constituents coming out and voting. I had a lot of friends and family that come out and helped. I really look forward to serving the community another four years.”
Jenkins said campaigning was both “exciting and very nervous.”
“I knew Mike was a well-known person and he had a lot of support as well,” Jenkins said. “Forty-six votes is not a lot.”
Bobby Johnson Jr. ran unopposed for District 2, seat B, and received 1,031 votes.
One old, one new
Only two of 10 commission seats were contested.
Republican candidate Van Shaver beat out Democratic candidate Jan Hahn with 75.99 percent of the vote for District 5, seat B. Shaver and Hahn’s votes totaled 1,975 and 624, respectively.
Shaver returns after serving commission in 2008-12 and since 2014.
“Very excited, very humbled, very excited to start again,” Shaver said. “It just always makes me, again — the word’s humbled — so many people would come out and show support. I hope to continue to earn their support and just I’ll work my tail off to do everything I can for them.”
Newcomer Republican candidate Julia Hurley edged out longtime Democratic candidate Earlena Maples for District 2, seat A, by 28 votes. Maples had served since 1986. Votes for Hurley and Maples were 643 and 615, respectively.
Hurley said she was “absolutely honored” and ready to get started.
“We got to meet so many people and knocked on 450 doors,” Hurley said of her campaign. “I got to meet a lot of the new people in the new-built neighborhoods that I hadn’t had a chance to meet yet. We just had a really good time with it. We did a lot of door-knocking, I mean it was just lot of face-to-face talking, and I just really enjoyed meeting so many people in the district. A lot of new ideas and a lot of fresh faces.”
Hurley reached out to Maples on election night.
“I told her how much I respected her in how much service she’s given to Loudon County and how much that means to the county and it meant to me as a resident of her district,” Hurley said. “Everybody I know appreciates the hard work she’s put into the last 32 years. So I told her win or lose we were still family, we’re still friends and we’d still be here. I’d still be here for her if she needed anything at all. I know she’ll still be here for Loudon County.”
Candidates in uncontested races were David Meers, Adam Waller, Harold Duff, Matthew Tinker, Bill Satterfield, Gary Whitfield, Kelly Littleton-Brewster and Henry Cullen. Waller and Whitfield are also newcomers.